Paid Partnership with Circle with Disney
“Mom, Dad! Please let us watch for 15 more minutes! I just have to finish this show. Please!”
Ah, the sweet sound of raising children in the 21st century …
As a foster family, we’ve had 23 children come through our home over the course of nine years. Eight of our children were adopted and our six youngest (ages 9, 10, 11, 15, 16, and 17) still live at home.
When our oldest two were teens, we only had to deal with cell phones and dial-up internet. But times have changed. Computers, smartphones, and tablets are a part of our everyday life.
For years we felt helpless when it came to monitoring our children’s activity online. Keeping up with internet safety can be overwhelming. After all, technology changes faster than we can blink and it has often left our heads spinning. Our number one goal is to keep our kids safe – and the internet sometimes feels like an abyss of danger.
At first, we tried to recreate the technology-free childhood we grew up with. You know, when our parents’ greatest concern was that we might watch something inappropriate on TV at the neighbor’s house and the phone was attached to the wall with a curly cord that had to be stretched thin if you wanted to talk to a friend with any ounce of privacy.
Keeping technology away from our children worked for a little bit, but as they grew older, even their schools utilized tablets, computers, and online textbooks. We had to concede that the world we live in is filled with technology and as parents, it’s our job to navigate the ins and outs alongside our children.
Circle is a simple gadget that allows you to manage all of your family’s connected devices in your home, from smartphones to TVs. With features that include setting time limits and filtering online content, it makes it super easy for parents to do things like pause the Internet or block a bad website.
Before we found Circle, we tried five different brands that promised filtering and monitoring for the devices our children use. Unfortunately, each one left us disappointed. But here’s why Circle is different:
It’s a breeze to set up.
When Circle arrived at our house, I’m ashamed to say that we didn’t take it out of the box for a week, assuming it would be difficult to assemble.
When we read the directions online, the set up sounded too good to be true. But when we finally opened the box, we realized it was just as easy to set up as the website claimed.
Step 1: Remove Circle from the box. Plug it in. Wait for the light to start blinking. It’s connected!
Step 2: Add Disney Circle App to your smartphone, follow screen prompts to set up a profile for each family member.
That’s it! From start to finish this took less than five minutes to accomplish.
It’s easy to use.
Everything about this program is simple and streamlined. The app is easy to navigate and the instructions are written in straightforward language. We never felt lost, confused, or intimidated — which we often did with other monitoring brands that had cluttered websites and vague explanations.
You can control data usage.
The question we always had with Internet filtering was, “What about data regulation?” It’s one thing to filter and restrict internet usage, but what do you do when your child switches off Wi-Fi and moves to a 3G or 4G network? Circle solves this. You can not only pause internet use and regulate the hours your child spends on Netflix or gaming online, but — and this is super cool — through their monthly membership feature, you can also control data usage.
It has fostered healthy conversation and boundaries around technology.
We are all about family preservation and connection. Circle reinforces these family values by fostering open dialogue. When my wife and I set up “bedtimes” for phones or time limits on certain apps or sites, we can discuss the “why” behind our decision with our children. And because Circle is not an all-or-nothing device (meaning they don’t just restrict access) we can set separate, appropriate boundaries for each individual child. We can also allow a little bit of give here and there.
A big part of healthy parenting is choosing your battles wisely. But often, even the wise battles are still … battles. Circle has helped us reduce most arguments over online access and gaming because the limits and restrictions are established, no questions asked.
Our children rarely stand up and cheer for any filtering software or restrictions we’ve put on online activity, but they are welcoming to Circle. Don’t get me wrong, it took a week or so, which is normal. The look on our daughter’s face was priceless the first night the Internet suddenly shut down on her phone. And when the time limit for Netflix kicked in, she was a bit shell-shocked. But this led to a healthy conversation and she ultimately acknowledged that she had spent enough time online.
And that alone is a win for parenting in the 21st century.